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a blog by Chris Barrow

PCT’s tighten the noose

Here’s an extract from an email I received on Sunday:

I have also had a bit of a problem with the PCT. Most of the practices in the area went private when the new contract came in, and most of us took a child-only NHS contract. I received a letter on Thursday (dated the previous day) stating that the PCT is going to end all limited contracts in September (6 months earlier than agreed) and that if we wished to tender for further, all-inclusive NHS UDAs we had to get our response and proposal to the PCT by Friday!! I rang the PCT dental lead who told me that in the PCT’s eyes the child-only contract was discriminatory so could be terminated whenever they liked. I stated my view that there is nothing in the contract which states they can do this, but she said there is nothing I can do unless I take a full contract! I spoke to the BDA who said that the PCT cannot cancel the contract like this and I should speak to the PCT again- if they maintain the stance then the BDA legal dept will take it up. I also rang the LDC chairman- he has spoken with the PCT too, and they basically told him we can like it or lump it. He suspects the Eddie Crouch case has encouraged the PCTs to believe they can do whatever they want- his advice was to take a small NHS contract to compensate for the loss of the children-only contract income. I thought that this may be a way around the problem, and that I could just see children as before, telling the adults trying to get an appointment that we are full, but the LDC chair was told by the PCT that they will be closely monitoring the claim forms put in to ensure no discrimination takes place. I am quite concerned about this, as it will cause a drop of £720 per month in our income. I know I can take up a children’s plan with Practice Plan but I doubt it will be very widely taken up. More worrying is that the local private dentists I spoke to on Friday all seem to be resigned to going back into the NHS system to a fair degree. If this happens we could lose quite a few patients again. What would your advice be in this situation?
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